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Joseph Perles Family Collection 1808-1961

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Joseph Perles Family Collection 1808-1961


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The bulk of the material concerns the scholarly and religious career of Dr. Joseph Perles. His work is divided within the collection into sermons, academic papers, and correspondence. The sermons are handwritten in notebooks, and are often marked and notated with changes. The handwriting can be difficult to read. In both sermons and correspondence a researcher can discern much about Joseph Perless own academic and rabbinical development, as well as his role in Conservative Judaism. There is material he collected, such as documents pertaining to the history of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau and the history of the Jewish community in Munich. Various family members are also represented. The correspondence of Felix Perles gives a great deal of insight into the work Felix did in carrying on the legacy of his father

Joseph Perles' correspondents include Wilhelm Bacher, Jacob Bernays, Joseph Bloch, Philip Bloch, Salomon Buber, Albert Cohen, Hermann Cohen, Israel Davidson, Ignaz von Doellinger, Zacharias Fraenkel, Ludwig Geiger, Heinrich Graetz, Max Gruenbaum, Moritz Guedemann, Solomon Chaim Halberstam, Esriel Hildesheimer, Adolf Jellinek, Moritz Jutrozinski, Zadoc Kahn, Gustav Karpeles, Emanuel Kirschner, Moritz Lazarus, Rochus Liliencron, Leopold Lipschitz, Isidore Loeb, Theodor Loewenfeld, Samuel David Luzzatto, Claude Goldsmith Montefiore, Moses Montefiore, Marco Mortara, Salomon Neumann, Solomon Schechter, David Simonsen, Nahum Sokolow, and Leopold Zunz

Series I: Personal contains documents of and collected by Joseph Perles. The first folder is material from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau. The papers in this section span the years 1854 to 1880. Included is a statute of the seminary from 1854, a yearly report printed in 1875, and correspondence concerning the nomination of directors for the seminary in 1875 and 1879. The second and third folders contain documents and letters concerning the Jewish community of Munich. Two Hebrew documents date from 1808 and 1812. The 1808 document is a tribute by the community to King Maximillian Joseph, and the 1812 document is a prayer by Rabbi Hesskiel Hessel upon the birth of Princess Therese. All other papers concern the period 1863-1893 and relate to questions of reform, religious instruction, kosher butchering, and public celebrations. There is also correspondence with other Jewish communities. The final folder of the series is an addenda composed of articles and correspondence concerning and/or belonging to Joseph Perles, and covers the years 1875-1894. At the end of the series is an article, Briefe aus dem Breslauer Seminar von 1856 bis 1861 by Joseph Perles, published in 1904, with a forward by Rosalie Perles

Series II: Sermons contains 34 notebooks with handwritten sermons by Joseph Perles. They are dated from 1858, when Joseph Perles was in Breslau, to 1894, the year of his death in Munich. There are 528 sermons amounting to more than 200 pages. The sermons include Sabbath sermons, holiday sermons, and sermons for events such as birth, marriage, and death. At the end of the sermons there is various other written material, including a liturgy for the opening of the Neue Synagoge on Oranienburger Strasse in Berlin in 1866. It should be noted that Felix Perles edited a volume of his fathers sermons titled Predigten. Aus dem Nachlass in 1866

Series III: Correspondence contains correspondence from various leading figures in Jewish scholarship at the time. Many of the letters deal with Hebrew philology, especially Hebrew as written and spoken in Biblical times. Other topics include Hebrew literature from Biblical to modern times, Jewish history, and various episodes in Jewish literature and Jewish philosophy. The writers of the correspondence reflect the scholarship and interest these individuals had in these subjects, even if these topics were not their main concerns. Many of the writers are most remembered as scholars

There are separate subseries for the correspondence with Rabbi Zacharias Frankel, a nineteenth century leader of Conservative Judaism in Germany, and Heinrich Graetz, a scholar of Jewish history who was controversial for his belief in Jewish national identity

Other individuals include Wilhelm Bacher, a Hungarian scholar of biblical Hebrew, and Adolf Neubauer, an orientalist and bibliographer who traveled and lived throughout Europe and Palestine, researching Jewish history and language. Also represented is Solomon Buber, editor of rabbinical texts and a scholar of Jewish history and literature who was the grandfather of Martin Buber

Many writers were prominent rabbis. These include Pinkus Fritz Frankl, rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin, Moritz Gudemann, a leading Viennese rabbi, and Salomon Mayer Schiller-Szinessy, a rabbi in Manchester, England. Others held important academic posts. Marcus Brann was a famous historian and teacher at the University of Breslau. Isidore Loeb was a leading figure of French Jewry, serving and teaching at a variety of posts and Jewish institutions. David Rosin was a lecturer on Hebrew philology at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau. Adolf Schwarz served as the first dean of the Vienna Israelitisch-Theologische Lehranstalt

Series IV: Perles Family Members includes information on various members of the Perles. Rosalie Perles was the wife of Joseph Perles. This series consists of her manuscript Unsere Grossmütter, written in 1905. Following the manuscript are 20 thank you letters for the lecture Unsere Grossmütter as presented to the Verein fuer juedische Geschichte und Literatur in Königsberg, 1904. Hedwig Perles was the wife of Dr. Felix Perles, daughter-in-law of Joseph Perles. She was a social worker in Königsberg. The series contains papers of the years 1905/1906, when Hedwig Perles was involved in organizing aid to Russian Jewish refugees. There are also two reports in this series from the Juedische Volkskueche for the years 1913 and 1914. Felix Perles was the son of Rosalie and Joseph Perles. Personal correspondence, articles, and clippings of Felix Perles are in this series. The material spans the years 1906 to 1928. The articles deal with both the scholarly work of Felix Perles and the work of the Liberale jüdische Vereinigung (Liberal Jewish Association). The correspondence is also about both these issues

Joseph Perles was born in Baja, Hungary, in 1835. He was born into a long line of rabbis and talmudic scholars. His ancestors include the famous talmudist and mathematician Judah Loew ben Bezaleel (d. 1609 in Prague) and Asher ben Jehiel, or Asheri, (1250-1327), an outstanding legal codifier and talmudist. Josephs own father, Baruch Asher Perles, was won over in his studies by the simple interpretation of the Bible, the peshat. As rabbi of Baja, he appreciated both talmudic teaching and more secular culture. He read German books and periodicals, and sent Joseph to the local grammar school for part of his education. When the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) opened, he had Joseph enrolled as its first student. The Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau was founded by Rabbi Zecherias Frankel (1801-1875) after his break away from the Reform Judaism movement. The seminary was founded in 1854 with the premise that Jewish law was not static, but needed to be flexible and adaptable to cultural changes as, Rabbi Frankel argued, it was historically. Both Baruch and his son Joseph were supporters of Frankels movement, which became what we now know as Conservative Judaism

In addition to studying at the seminary, Joseph Perles also took courses at the University of Breslau. He graduated from the university in Oriental Philology and Philosophy, receiving a Ph.D. in 1859. His dissertation, Meletemata Peschitthoniana, was a treatise on the Syriac version of the Bible. Studying and writing about ancient versions of the Bible became one of his specialties. His work in medieval literature was also extensive

Joseph Perless main scholarly contribution was to Hebrew and Aramaic lexicography and philology. Works include Zur rabbinischen Sprach-und Sagenkunde (1873), where Joseph Perles looks at Hebrew origins and Hebrew philology in the Arabian Nights tales, Die Juedische Hochzeit in Nachbiblischer Zeit, (1860), where he studies Jewish marriage customs in biblical times, and Die Leichenfeierlichkeiten im nachbiblischen Judentum, (1861), in which he studies mourning and funerary customs of Jews in biblical times. He also wrote Beitrage zur Geschichte der Hebraeischen und Aramaeischen Studien (1884). This is only a sampling of his work. Topics cover biblical history, German-Jewish history, philology and linguistics

Joseph Perles served as a preacher of the Bruedergemeinde of Posen (now Poznan, Poland) from 1862-1871. He rejected an offer to serve as a rabbi in Berlin as well as a position to lecture at the newly founded Landesrabbinerschule in Budapest. He opted instead to become rabbi of the Jewish community of Munich in 1871. During his rabbinate the Munich Jewish community became more cohesive and organized, and a new synagogue was established during his tenure, in 1887. He stayed in Munich until his death in 1894

Rosalie Perles (1839-1932), wife of Joseph Perles, was a writer and journalist for a number of papers and periodicals. Her best-known work is Aphorismen, published immediately after her death in 1932. Their son, Felix Perles (1874-1933), became a noted rabbi and scholar in his own right. As a student, he became attracted to the Zionist movement in Vienna. Later he became rabbi at Koenigsberg (now Kalingrad, Russia). His academic interests included Bible criticism, Hebrew and Aramaic lexicography, medieval Hebrew poetry, Jewish dialectics and mysticism. He published a critique of W. Boussets Religion des Judentums im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter (1903), and a collection of essays, Juedische Skizzen (1912). Felixs wife, Hedwig Perles, was an active social worker in Koenigsberg. Josephs other son, Max Perles (1867- 1894), became a noted oculist

The following individuals are mentioned in this collection: Perles, Hedwig; Perles, Rosalie; Perles, Joseph; Perles, Felix;

The following locations are mentioned in this collection: Posen; Munich; Bavaria; Augsburg; Kitzingen; Rotterdam; Koenigsberg; Wuerzburg; Berlin


Language German
Call number AR 1351
Digitizing sponsor Leo Baeck Institute Archives
Book contributor Leo Baeck Institute Archives
Collection LeoBaeckInstitute; americana

Full catalog record MARCXML
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